Charlie Morton
Charlie Morton
35-Year-Old PitcherSP
Tampa Bay Rays
2019 Fantasy Outlook
The Houston rebuild of Charlie Morton is complete. Two seasons, 29 wins, a 3.50 ERA and a dramatic increase in strikeout rate. "Ground Chuck" did not generate as many groundballs as he did with Pittsburgh, but he still gets his fair share of them when he is not missing bats. The 167 innings of work in 2018 represented his highest single-season total since 2011 and it marked the first time he hit the 30-start plateau in his career. His fastball and curve were both well above average pitches in 2018, but it is his curveball that has consistently graded out well throughout his career. Pitching in Minute Maid did not impact his home park splits, so keep that in mind as Morton heads to Tampa Bay on a two-year deal. When Morton has been on the mound the past two seasons, the results have been solid more often than not. He has the skills of a front-half starter, but lacks the durability of one. Read Past Outlooks
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$Signed a two-year, $30 million contract with the Rays in December of 2018. Contract includes vesting option for 2021 worth up to $15 million.
Starting Saturday
PTampa Bay Rays
April 18, 2019
Morton will start the middle game of the weekend series Saturday against the Red Sox, Juan Toribio of reports.
Manager Kevin Cash announced his pitching plans for the three-game set Thursday, which were somewhat up in the air due to Blake Snell's placement on the injured list earlier in the week with a toe injury. The Rays skipper announced he'll go with a bullpen day Friday before turning the ball over to Morton on Saturday with five days of rest. The veteran allowed one run on four hits and three walks over 4.2 innings against the Blue Jays last Sunday in his most recent start.
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Pitching Stats
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Left/Right Pitching Splits
Since 2017
BAA Batters K BB H 2B 3B HR
Since 2017vs Left .195 656 225 64 110 30 3 16
Since 2017vs Right .239 740 164 60 159 39 3 17
2019vs Left .243 44 13 5 9 3 0 1
2019vs Right .143 40 12 5 5 0 0 0
2018vs Left .207 325 118 35 57 14 3 9
2018vs Right .219 370 83 29 73 13 0 9
2017vs Left .175 287 94 24 44 13 0 6
2017vs Right .273 330 69 26 81 26 3 8
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Home/Away Pitching Splits
Since 2017
ERA at Home
ERA at Home
ERA on Road
ERA at Home
Since 2017Home 3.19 1.11 197.2 20 5 0 10.6 3.1 1.0
Since 2017Away 3.42 1.27 136.2 11 5 0 10.3 3.8 0.7
2019Home 1.64 1.00 11.0 1 0 0 11.5 3.3 0.0
2019Away 2.79 1.34 9.2 1 0 0 10.2 5.6 0.9
2018Home 3.21 1.09 89.2 9 2 0 11.2 3.0 1.0
2018Away 3.03 1.24 77.1 6 1 0 10.4 4.0 0.9
2017Home 3.34 1.14 97.0 10 3 0 9.8 3.1 1.1
2017Away 4.17 1.29 49.2 4 4 0 10.3 3.1 0.4
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Stat Review
How does Charlie Morton compare to other starting pitchers?
This section compares his stats with all starting pitcher seasons from the previous three seasons (minimum 120 innings). The bar represents the player's percentile rank. For example, if the bar is halfway across, then the player falls into the 50th percentile for that stat and it would be considered average.
94.3 mph
Strand %
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Past Fantasy Outlooks
Talk about a career rejuvenation. Morton was labeled a "priority signing" by Houston last offseason after showing surprising fastball velocity gains (to go with wicked curveball spin) in a small sample with Philadelphia in 2016. As it turned out, those gains were no fluke, as Morton gave the Astros nearly 150 quality innings during the regular season and then played a crucial role in the postseason, even earning the win in Game 7 of the World Series. What was once Morton's biggest weakness -- getting lefty batters out -- turned into one of his greatest strengths, with Morton posting the second-lowest wOBA against lefties by a righty starter, per FanGraphs. He's given something back in the groundball department, but the added strikeouts (10.0 K/9) more than make up for it. It's unwise to expect him to add to his 2017 workload, but this new version of Morton can make a fantasy impact even with limited innings. Plus, the era of the workhorse starter is over anyway.
Morton made just four starts before suffering a left hamstring tear that required season-ending surgery. Before he went down, there were some positive signs in his profile that make him an interesting endgame speculation this season. He was averaging 94.3 mph with his fastball, more than two miles per hour faster than he averaged in 2015 and easily the best velocity of his career. His K/9 increased along with his velocity and his swinging strike rate was at 13 percent after averaging eight percent in his prior seasons. He was also maintaining the excellent GB/FB ratio that he had displayed throughout most of his career. Morton quickly signed with the Astros soon after free agency began and is expected to be ready for the start of the 2017 season, if not spring action. He's sure to be overlooked in most leagues, thanks to the shift to the American League and his limited amount of work last season.
Morton’s confounding career continued in 2015. After returning from hip surgery in late May, he won his first five starts, compiling a 1.62 ERA in 33.1 IP. Thereafter he got rung up for a 5.93 ERA in 95.2 IP. He continues to struggle against lefties (.301/.389/.506) and remains inconsistent from start to start. Morton, who will earn $8 million in 2016, could find himself on the trade block if GM Neal Huntington’s patience has finally worn thin. The right-hander figures to rebound a bit after tossing consecutive sub-4.00 ERAs in 2013 and 2014, but given his propensity for injury and inconsistency fantasy owners might want to consider him as little more than a late draft pickup.
Morton will likely miss time at the beginning of 2015 after undergoing hip surgery in late October. The 31-year-old, who has made more than 20 starts in only two of seven big league campaigns, registered a 3.72 ERA (3.72 FIP) and 1.27 WHIP with a 126:57 K:BB ratio in 157.1 innings. He led the NL in hit batters (19) for the second straight season. Morton signed a three-year, $21 million extension prior to 2014, a deal which kicks in starting in 2015. The Pirates will gladly welcome him into the starting rotation, but again, it likely won't be at the start of the year. Morton has won 10 games only once -- he went 6-12 for a team which won 88 games in 2014 -- but should pile up innings once he gets back from his latest injury.
Morton put together a surprisingly consistent 2013 after making his season debut in June. The sinker-balling righty returned from Tommy John Surgery armed with a 92.8 mph average fastball that induced a whopping 62.9 percent groundball rate in 116 innings. He allowed more than three earned runs in three of 20 starts en route to a 3.26 ERA and 1.28 WHIP. Morton benefited from Pittsburgh's defensive shifts as much as any starting pitcher and limited lefties to a .312 BA and .692 OPS. That may not sound like much, but it's an improvement over career marks of .335 BA and .822 OPS. Morton will slot in Pittsburgh's starting rotation looking to pick up where he left off at the end of 2013 after inking a three-year, $21 million extension.
Morton isn't expected back until June or July after undergoing Tommy John surgery in late May. Before getting hurt, he registered a 4.65 ERA and 1.45 WHIP in 50.1 innings. When he's on top of his games, the right-hander utilizes a sinking fastball that seemingly coaxes groundballs at will. His 2.20 GB/FB ratio followed up a 3.17 mark in 2011. Left-handed hitters have historically fared well against Morton. They hold an .806 career OPS against him and are typically stacked in lineups when he starts. He engineered his best season with Pittsburgh in 2011, when he put up a 3.86 ERA while striking out a career-high 110. Even then, his WHIP was an ungainly 1.53, thanks to 77 walks. When he comes back, he'll likely slot in as a back-end rotation man, but his lack of strikeouts and risk of injury push him down low on fantasy totem pole.
The 2011 Charlie Morton version didn't pitch like Roy Halladay, but he was a heck of a lot better than the 2010 version (or 2009, for that matter). The righty put up some atrocious numbers numbers in 2010 (7.57 ERA in 79.2 IP), but general manager Neal Huntington showed faith in him and was rewarded. The righty with a repertoire of sinking pitches surprised many with a 3.21 ERA through his first 13 starts. By the time fantasy owners bought into Morton, however, he cooled off with a 4.41 ERA the rest of the way. Morton underwent hip surgery in October to repair a torn labrum and might not be back until May. He doesn't strike out many hitters or make many lefties miss (left-handers hit .364 against him). Draft him as a spot starter and use him against right-handed dominated lineups only.
Pirates GM Neal Huntington and others in management have shown an almost cult-like fostering toward Morton. The team coddled Morton, using Chris Snyder almost exclusively as his catcher over Ryan Doumit -- if only the rest of the staff had been so lucky. Morton earned his 2-12 record, compiling a historically bad 7.57 ERA and 1.732 WHIP in 79.2 innings. Opposing batters hit him at a .332 clip, numbers typically reserved for former Bucco Zach Duke. Regardless, he's still a factor in the Pittsburgh organization. He carries a low-90s fastball and a deuce that breaks off a cliff. The 27-year-old righty needs to trust his fastball, teams sat on his offspeed stuff all too frequently. After splitting time between Triple-A Indianapolis and Pittsburgh last year, Morton enters the 2011 campaign as a long shot to win a rotation spot. With his talent, however, it would be foolish to write him off altogether, as Huntington certainly hasn't.
With 33 combined starts between Atlanta and Pittsburgh, Morton made it through his first full major league season intact in 2009, but it wasn't easy. Inconsistency plagued the right-hander with intriguing stuff. On Aug. 14, Morton surrendered 10 earned runs in just one inning against the Cubs. He returned to Wrigley in late September to throw the first and only shutout of his short major league career. Morton will compete for the No. 4 or 5 spot in the rotation in 2010. At this point in his career, Morton might be used in fantasy leagues based upon matchups, but every-start usage is not recommended.
Morton struggled in his first season in the majors with poor control (41:48 K:BB ratio), but saw improvements in his strikeout rate and control at Triple-A (72:27 K:BB ratio). He threw just 5.2 innings in September due to a back injury, but should be fine for spring training. Despite the improvement at Triple-A, Morton's prior minor league strikeout and control numbers didn't indicate he'd have much success in the majors. He could win a spot in the rotation in spring training, and could surprise if his improvement at Triple-A continues.
Morton enters 2008 with an outside shot at a big league job after Braves management were impressed with his play in the Arizona Fall League, where he went 4-1 with a 2.57 ERA and 20:8 K:BB ratio in 21 innings. His minor league strikeout and control numbers wouldn't seem to indicate he's ready for a promotion all the way from Double-A. However, a rotation spot at Triple-A and a shot at a late-season call up may be in the offing.
More Fantasy News
Posts another strong outing
PTampa Bay Rays
April 14, 2019
Morton allowed one run on four hits and three walks and struck out four over 4.2 innings in Sunday's no-decision against Toronto.
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Picks up second win
PTampa Bay Rays
April 9, 2019
Morton (2-0) allowed two runs on three hits while striking out seven and walking three across five innings in a victory against the White Sox on Tuesday.
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Set for two step
PTampa Bay Rays
April 9, 2019
Morton, who will take the hill for Tuesday's game against the White Sox, is scheduled to make a second start this week in Sunday's series finale in Toronto, Juan Toribio of reports.
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Tosses six scoreless in no-decision
PTampa Bay Rays
April 3, 2019
Morton threw six shutout innings, allowing four hits with two walks and striking out six in a no-decision against the Rockies on Wednesday.
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Notches first win of 2019
PTampa Bay Rays
March 29, 2019
Morton (1-0) picked up the win Friday against Houston, allowing two runs on three hits and two walks while striking out eight over five innings.
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